Category Archives: Desserts

Hot Weather Desserts

School has started, the weather is still warm, and kids are coming home hot and hungry. It is nice to have delicious, “cool” (as in refreshing AND neat) hot weather desserts for dinner that will satisfy kids of all ages.

These recipes are sure to become family favorites that will be requested time and time again. The best part is that you will love them, as well, because they are fairly easy to make.

Fresh Fruit Pizza

This dish will please everyone in your household, plus friends – and, it is an good way to get the kids (and dad) to eat more fruit. It is great for dessert or a snack.


  • 1 package refrigerated sugar cookie dough mix
  • 1-8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
  • 2-3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 4 cups assorted fruits, sliced (strawberries, bananas, oranges, blueberries, etc.)


Prepare the Crust

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees Celsius).
  2. Roll cookie dough into a ball and place in the center of a round pizza pan.
  3. Spread dough evenly over the pan, into a 12 inch circle.
  4. Bake ~ 20 minutes, or until golden brown.
  5. Allow to cool

Prepare the Topping and Assemble

  1. Wash, dry and slice the fruit.
  2. Gently blend together in a bowl (do not stir, will make it too juicy) – set aside.
  3. Whip the softened cream cheese and sugar together with a hand-held mixer until smooth.
  4. Spread cream cheese over the cooled cookie crust
  5. Mix the sugar and cream cheese together and spread over the cooled cookie crust.
  6. Top with the fruit and then sprinkle the lemon juice over the fruit (to keep it from turning brown). Cover lightly with Saran Wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  7. Slice into 12 pizza wedges and serve.
  8. Refrigerate any leftovers.

NOTE: This snack does contain sugar in the cookie crust and a little in the cream cheese, but overall, it is fairly healthy and a whole lot better than straight cookies. If you are so inclined, I would recommend you make your own *sugar cookie dough (see below) so you know exactly what is in it – and there will be no unhealthy additives.

This is a tasty treat to serve at a birthday party. Kids and adults love it!

*Sugar Cookies

This is my adaptation from a standard Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie recipe that I found when my children were very young (years ago).


  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • ½ cup shortening
  • 2¼ cups flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 dash salt


  1. Preheat oven to 375° F.
  2. Beat softened butter and shortening with a hand-held electric mixer on high speed for 30 seconds.
  3. Add ½ the flour, the egg, sugar, milk, baking powder and soda, vanilla, and salt.
  4. Beat until thoroughly combined.
  5. Add remaining flour and continue stirring until completely mixed.
  6. Cover and chill for at least three hours.
  7. Roll out one-half the dough into a 12” round approximately 1/8” thick and place on the pizza pan. (You can either make two pizza rounds, or use the remaining dough to make regular sugar cookies – see note below.)
  8. Bake pizza round 7 to 8 minutes or until lightly browned and well set.
  9. Leave on the pizza pan and cool on a wire rack.

To make cookies of remaining dough, roll dough into one-inch balls, roll in sugar. Place on greased baking sheet; flatten with a glass and bake 10-12 minutes or until set at 350° F. Remove from cookie sheet to a wire rack to cool completely.

Hot Weather Berry Dessert

This is easy to make and yummy to eat. Your family, friends, and guest will be wowed with this delicious, summery treat.


  • 4 cups fresh strawberries
  • (OR) 3 cups blackberries, blueberries or raspberries (or a mix)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1½ cups heavy whipping cream


  • Hull and rinse strawberries (or berries of your choice).
  • Set aside a few berries for garnish, if desired.
  • Place berries in medium-sized bowl.
  • Sprinkle with lemon juice; then, gently toss with sugar.
  • Let sit for 20 minutes.
  • Put berry mixture in a blender or food processor and mix until smooth – set aside.
  • (For a chunkier blend, use a large fork to mash them a bit.)
  • Beat the cream until soft peaks form.
  • Gently fold in berry mixture into cream until evenly distributed.
  • Spoon into serving dishes.
  • Top with reserved berries for garnish.
  • Serve immediately or keep chilled up to 1 hour.

Cool, fruity and delicious; a perfect treat all summer long.

Berry Shake

Image by MSPhotographic
Image by MSPhotographic

A hot weather treat everyone will enjoy. It is quick and easy to make.


  • 4 cups ice
  • 1 cup milk (more as needed to reach desired thickness)
  • 1 cup plain Greek Yogurt
  • 3-4 tablespoons local honey
  • 2 cups of your favorite berries (blueberries, strawberries, etc.- or a mix)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Dash of salt


  1. Fill the blender ¾ full of ice cubes, crush slightly
  2. Add additional ingredients.
  3. Blend until smooth.

Use your imagination when thinking of cool, hot-weather desserts and treats to help your family stay cool. Enjoy the wonderful yumminess of summer fruit and veggies. Nothing is better for you or tastier than nature’s own goodness!


Delicious Puddings for Valentines Day

Valentine Puddings for Your Sweetheart

Image by LenM
Image by LenM

Valentine’s Day is only a few days away. I know, I know…. my focus is primarily on healthy foods, but there are a few occasions when sweets are appropriate – and Valentine’s Day is one.  Make your Valentine dinner especially romantic with a delicious homemade Valentine’s Day Pudding.

To make it easy for you, I have collected six yummy recipes. Choose one, or make several and have a pudding feast.



  • ½ cup honey
  • 6 ounces bread crumbs
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ teaspoon ginger
  • 1 whole lemon rind (grated)
  • 2 eggs (separated)
  • 2 tablespoons butter (melted)


    1. Separate the eggs.
    2. Place the egg whites in a small bowl and set aside.
    3. Place all ingredients except butter and egg whites in a mixing bowl.
    4. Whip until thoroughly mixed.
    5. Stir in the softened butter.
    6. Beat the egg whites until frothy.
    7. Gently blend egg whites into the mixture.
    8. Pour a little honey in the bottom of the pudding mold.
    9. Gently transfer the pudding into the mold (should be no more than ¾ full).
    10. Cover and seal with a piece of foil.
    11. Using a large lidded saucepan, bring water to a boil and carefully set pudding dish in the pan.
    12. Cover and steam it for about 2 hours, check occasionally to make sure it does not boil dry.
    13. For more detailed directions, go to: How to Steam a Pudding



  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs, separated (set whites aside for meringue)
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons butter (not margarine)


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F
  2. Mix together: sugar, cocoa, flour and salt in a medium saucepan, stir until well blended.
  3. Separate the eggs, reserving whites for meringue.
  4. Whisk egg yolks into the milk in a separate bowl.
  5. Add milk and egg mixture to dry ingredients and whisk to blend until smooth.
  6. Place saucepan over medium heat.
  7. Bring to a simmer, stirring continuously as mixture thickens.
  8. When mixture is thick enough to coat a spoon, remove from heat.
  9. Add vanilla and butter – stir to blend.
  10. Pour into casserole (or soufflé) dish.
  11. Bake for 20 minutes – or until pudding is set.
  12. During last few minutes of baking, make the meringue.
  13. Remove pudding from the oven and increase temperature to 400° F.
  14. Top with meringue (directions below).

Meringue Ingredients

  • 3 egg whites (from above)
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar (optional)
  • 6 tablespoons sugar


  1. Stir cream of tartar into the sugar – set aside
  2. Place egg whites in mixing bowl.
  3. With an electric mixer, beat at high speed until stiff peaks form.
  4. Using medium speed, add one spoonful of sugar at a time to the beaten egg whites.
  5. Increase mixture speed to high and continue to beat until sugar is completely dissolved.
  6. Spread meringue carefully over the top of the pudding.
  7. Bake in pre-heated oven (400° F) for ten minutes, or until meringue is golden brown.
  8. Serve warm or chilled.

Serves 4 – 6



  • 2 cups of fine stale English biscuit or bread crumbs
  • 1 cup rich milk (add a little half-and-half to make it richer)
  • 5 eggs (separated) and both beaten very lightly
  • ½ teaspoon soda stirred in small amount of boiling water
  • 1 cup sweet jelly, jam or marmalade.


  1. Scald the milk and pour over the crumbs
  2. Beat until cool.
  3. Stir in the beaten yolks – then, add the whites.
  4. Stir in the soda/water mixture.
  5. Fill large pudding cups half full with the batter.
  6. Bake in a quick oven (375° – 4.00°) for 30 minutes.
  7. When done, turn out quickly and carefully.
  8. With a sharp knife make an incision in the side of each pudding.
  9. Pull each one partly open, and put a liberal spoonful of the conserve inside.
  10. Close the opening by pinching the edges with your fingers.
  11. Eat warm with lightly sweetened whipped cream.



  • 1 quart apples (pared and quartered)
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup sugar (white or brown)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 whole lemon rind (grated and juiced)
  • 2 cups fine bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 eggs (well-beaten)
  • Hard Sauce (optional)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
  2. Generously butter a pudding baking dish.
  3. Place apples and water in a large heavy saucepan.
  4. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook until soft.
  5. Remove from heat and add sugar, butter and the grated rind and lemon juice.
  6. Stir in the bread crumbs and flour.
  7. Stir in the two well-beaten eggs.
  8. Scoop batter into the buttered baking dish,
  9. Bake for 45 minutes in the preheated oven.
  10. Serve with sugar and heavy cream or hard sauce.



  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 3½ cups bread crumbs
  • ½ pound cheese, grated
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 4 eggs, well beaten


  1. Pre-heat oven to 375° F.
  2. Place milk and butter in a sauce pan over medium heat until butter is melted.
  3. Place bread crumbs and grated cheese in large bowl
  4. Pour milk/butter mixture over breads crumbs and cheese – soak for twenty minutes
  5. Add the well-beaten eggs and a pinch of salt – stir until well mixed.
  6. Pour the mixture into a well-buttered dish.
  7. Bake up to 40 Minutes – until set.



  • 1½  cup chopped dates
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 tablespoons milk
  • ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Dash salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 325° F.
  2. Sift all dry ingredients together and set aside.
  3. Chop the dates and the nuts.
  4. Place both in large mixing bowl.
  5. Stir in the sugar and mix well.
  6. In a separate bowl, whip together the egg, milk and vanilla.
  7. Add to the date/nut mixture.
  8. Stir in the dry ingredients
  9. Pour batter into a generously-buttered 2-quart baking dish.
  10. Dot with the 2 tablespoons of butter.
  11. Bake in pre-heated oven for ~30 minutes, until knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
  12. Serve with whipped cream, ice cream or hard sauce.


Serves 4 – can easily be cut in half for two servings.

ENJOY! Happy Valentine’s Day!

5 Tips for Healthier Baking

Chocolate Zucchini Brownies
Image by Kelly Garbato

Tips for Healthier Baking

Tips for healthier baking almost sounds like an oxymoron, but notice that it says healthier (meaning compared to the way you usually bake) – not completely healthy. Of course, you must add moderation into the mix. A treat now and then is not a bad thing – especially if they are relatively healthy. It is the over consumption of empty calorie desserts that can be harmful.

Everyone seems to be jumping on the diet band wagon for either gluten-free or all natural diets – which is a good thing.  Eating healthy is the key to a long life. Unfortunately, diets usually have restrictions that make it difficult to stay with them – especially when it comes to sweets. Today, I have good news. If you are smart, you can eat healthy and have your cookies too.

Baking will always haunt those who have a true passion for cooking – and baking cookies is one of the most tempting of the lot.  It you have a family who loves homemade cookies, it will be difficult to stop making them – and when they are around, you will be tempted.

With a little creativity and some determination you will be able to bake healthier alternatives for you and your family.

All you have to do is balance out your baking recipes with healthier ingredients – and still add a handful of your favorite chocolate chips to satisfy your sweet tooth, which you have worked so hard to control.  Of course, eating them in moderation is critical, even when they are a healthier version of the original.

Following are 5 tips that you can use to easily substitute into your recipes for healthier baked goods!

Healthier Fat Replacements

Most baked goods, especially cookies, require butter or some type of fat that adds flavor and acts as a binder. This is an important area where you need to get creative.

First start cooking with healthier oils that do not contain the trans-fats which are so harmful to your body and are generally the specified ingredients in cookies. Then, find other healthier replacements for the fats.

  • Replace butter with canola oil – especially if the recipe calls for melted butter. For chocolate chip cookies, try replacing ½ cup butter with ½ cup of canola oil.  Canola oil has no saturated fat.
  • Exchange pureed fruits and vegetables for the oil in muffin, cookie and cake recipes. For more details, read: Reducing Fat in Your Favorite Baked Goods Recipes.
  • Replace butter with plain, non-fat Greek yogurt at a 1 to 1 ratio.  (½ cup butter = ½ cup; not recommended for amounts over 1 cup). OR – replace ½ the butter with an equal amount of Greek yogurt.
  • If butter is required – replace half the butter with half as much yogurt.  (1 cup butter = ½ cup butter and ¼ cup yogurt.)
  • If shortening or oil is required, replace half the oil with ¾ the amount of yogurt. (1 cup oil = ½ cup oil and ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons yogurt.)
  • Replace half the amount of butter with applesauce.  (1 cup butter = ½ cup butter and ½ cup applesauce.) If you replace all the butter with applesauce to cut even more calories and fat, the result will be a more dense and moist bread – not recommended for cookies.
  • Replace half the butter with mashed avocado (good for cookies); (1 cup butter = ½ cup butter and ½ cup mashed avocado.) Lowers the calorie content and creates a softer, chewier baked good. Excellent in chocolate desserts and brownies. Peel and pit avocados and mash thoroughly. Add two teaspoons of lemon juice for every cup of avocado puree to prevent browning.

Pureed Fruits and Vegetables

This is a common substitution and if you do it correctly, it can be one of the most beneficial choices in terms of healthy substitutions.

Pureed vegetables can substitute for the qualities of egg as a binder and adds its own unique flavor. For example, use pureed apples and add them to your cookies with a dash of cinnamon and you already are on your way to success.

For example:  Roasted beets, either shredded or pureed, can be used in chocolate or spice cakes – especially good in Red Velvet Cake. They add sweetness, moisture and color, but they don’t add any weird veggie flavor when paired with rich cake. Replace fat ingredient with ¾ cup pureed beets in any chocolate recipe.)  DO NOT use without the chocolate.

Pureed zucchini is a wonderful binder in brownies. The flavor of the cocoa is so strong that you do not even taste the zucchini and if it is blended right, you won’t notice the texture either. This is perfect for kids and adults alike that don’t want to voluntarily eat healthy! For a particular tasty, healthy treat, try this recipe:  Dark Chocolate Zucchini Brownies.

Get Creative with Your Flours

There are plenty of healthy substitutes to all-purpose flour. With the current fad of gluten-free diets, finding substitutes will not be difficult.

At the very least, try replacing half the all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour to add some fiber and nutrients. Or – better yet, use all whole-wheat. Experiment and see what works in various recipes. Start with cookies and brownies, they are the most forgiving. Cakes can be a little trickier.

If you want to go big with this, try looking into alternatives like chick pea flour or almond flour, which has only a fraction of the bad carbohydrates that are in white flour.

Keep in mind, that too much of one of these can overpower the flavor, especially something like chick pea flour. That means you’re going to have to experiment a little bit before you get it just right.

One final thought, for brownies replace 1 cup of flour with 1 cup of mashed black beans. Beans have much less impact on blood sugar levels and they are gluten free.

Ease Up on the Sodium

This one is easy. Recipes often call for a larger amount of sodium than necessary. You can usually shave the amount a little (¾ tsp instead of 1 tsp) However, be aware that removing too much can affect the rise in baking – so be careful with cakes.

Avoid Artificial Additives

Trans-fatty synthetic alternatives and synthetic additives and flavorings are never good for you. So, avoid all recipes that call for margarine – OR – replace the margarine with natural oils (even butter is better than margarine).

Healthy Versions of Your Favorite Recipes

For all of you bakers (novice to experienced) – baking is a wonderfully personal experience. So, when you first try some of these substitutions, it may not go very well at first – unless you are lucky. You may have to go through some trial and error to find combinations that work – and everything tastes and looks the way you want it to.

There are many healthy versions of your favorite baked goods online and in specialty recipe books (including the brownie recipe linked above). Just think about how impressed your friends and family will be when they find out that their favorite sugary snack of yours is actually much healthier for them than the ones they have been eating.

Old Fashioned Lazy Daisy Cake – Recipe of the Day

Old Fashioned Lazy Daisy Cake is a quick and easy recipe that has been handed down for generations. Many of you may remember it from your childhood. My mom made the topping with real cream, but I use half-and-half instead. Try it both ways to see which you prefer.

This is a wonderful after school snack, a nice cake to serve with coffee for your friends, or a delicious quick dessert that you can whip up to surprise your family some evening when they least expect it.



  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup flour, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter (not margarine)


  • 5 tablespoons brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons half-and-half


Have all ingredients at room temperature.

Pre-heat oven to 350° F.

Butter an 8 X 8”inch or 9 X 9” glass baking dish.


Heat the milk and butter just until lukewarm and set aside for the butter to melt.

Place the eggs in a large mixing bowl and whisk until thick.

Add sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt and mix well.

Stir in the milk/butter mixture and beat just until smooth.

Pour into the prepared pan.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove from oven, but do not turn off the oven.


(Prepare while cake is baking)

Place all three ingredients in a small sauce pan over medium heat.

Heat and stir until mixture thickens.

As soon as the cake is removed from the oven, pour mixture over the cake.

Return the cake to the oven and bake until topping bubbles.

Remove and let cool – it is also delicious served warm.

 Servings: 9

Recipe Tips

Frost with Quick Vanilla Butter Cream Frosting topped with crushed pecans.

This yummy cake is one of a collection in my book, “Cake Making Made Easy” available in digital or hardcopy on Amazon. [button link=”” bg_color=”#2730d1″ border=”#0c0c0f”]BUY NOW[/button]to enjoy all 60 recipes in the book.


Cream Sherry Cake – Recipe of the Week

Cream Sherry Cake is melt-in-your-mouth delicious. The first time I tasted this dessert was at a family dinner with my in-laws. I fell in love with this recipe and have used it for many years when I want to serve something memorable – yet incredibly easy to prepare. This is the only cake in the collection that uses pre-packaged mixes, but I decided to include it anyway because it is so wonderful.

If you prefer to make the cake from scratch, I am sure you could use the “Yellow Cake” recipe in the cookbook referenced below – a buy link is included.



  • 1 yellow cake mix (I prefer Duncan Hines™)
  • 1 small vanilla instant pudding
  • ¾ cup corn oil
  • ¾ cup cream sherry
  • 4 large eggs


  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup cream sherry (or substitute orange juice)


Have all ingredients at room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 350º F.

Have ready an ungreased 10” tube pan.

Beat eggs until fluffy – add other ingredients and beat for 10 minutes.

Pour into the ungreased pan.

Bake for approximately 50 minutes – until cake springs back when lightly touched.

Mix powdered sugar and sherry and pour over top of cake while it is hot.

Do not remove from pan until completely cool.

Serve with fresh lightly sweetened whipped cream.

This yummy cake is one of a collection in my book, “Cake Making Made Easy” available in digital or hardcopy on Amazon. [button link=”” bg_color=”#2730d1″ border=”#0c0c0f”]BUY NOW[/button]to enjoy all 60 recipes in the book.